I remember a time when meeting someone who was just as damaged was a bit of a relief. Everyone walking…
She yelled, “But you promised you would never leave me.”
And she was right. I did say that. And I meant it when the words came out of my mouth because she had the ability to make me feel more amazing than anyone ever had. And I had pictured a future with her. And I told her that. But she was turning it around and using it against me.
“You know what? I did make that promise,” I said as I put on my shoes. “But you have changed, and not for the better. We don’t fit like we once did.”
“But you promised.” She cried.
“I did. And I meant it… when I said it.”
And with that, I grabbed my jacket and walked out of her apartment.
I often think about those nights. The ones where I was lying next to her, holding her as close as I could to my chest while gently kissing her shoulders. It felt perfect. The way we fit. Our laughter, the sex, the way we looked at the world. There had never been anyone so perfectly fit for who I was.
Who I was. Not who I am.
And as I grew and evolved, I expected more of myself because I wanted more for myself. I began to recognize what I was capable of and wanted a partner on that journey. Unfortunately, she did not share the same desire. And that was fine. We all evolve at our own rates, it’s just sometimes we hope that the person we love comes along with us. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. And ultimately, you have two choices: You can either hold yourself back and stay to love them, or you can walk away and leave to love yourself.
So I left and her life went on and so did mine.
Years later, I am sitting across a table with a friend who said, “I just don’t understand. My boyfriend said he wanted to be with me forever but now he’s pulling away and when I ask him about it he keeps saying that he needs time to think about our future.”
I nodded along with listening cues and waited for her to finish.
“Chris, why would he lie to me?”
“I don’t think he lied.” I said, “I think he told you what was the truth in that moment.”
I went on to tell her that yes, men are impulsive. They often blurt out words without thinking of consequences or repercussions or expectations. Men tend to say what they mean in that moment without thinking of how those words might weigh on your heart. And in that moment, he felt a forever and he wanted her to know that. But promises are easy when a relationship is still fresh and ideal. When everyone is still respectful of each other’s feelings and we pee with the door closed. But one day we become lazy and allow the magic to slowly slip away. And when that happens, forever doesn’t look so appealing with them anymore. And so many of us are trapped in a futile downward spiral continually chasing that forever feeling. But that feeling rarely stays. Even when it is with the right person. Because no one can give you the last five minutes of a John Hughes movie forever. So we need to redefine forever and not make promises we know we can’t keep. We can’t be so flippant and impetuous with the feelings of others. And we need to stop giving false hope no matter how wonderful they feel pressed up against us when we fall asleep.
When we make promises in those moments, they aren’t lies. We are all fairly perceptive people and we can tell when someone speaks with such passion that it lights up their eyes, so yes, of course we believe them. But keep in mind that most people don’t keep their promises no matter how desperately we want them to. And that is all just part of the journey. And ultimately you have two choices: You can either choose to never believe anyone and live your life as a miserable skeptic, or you can live in that moment, choose to believe the words, and absorb the few brief moments of pure euphoria we are allowed.